Caring for Recruits' Injuries is Key to Success at Basic Training

LAST UPDATED: March 24, 2022
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​Author: Claudia Sanchez-Bustamante
There are all sorts of reasons why a new recruit might wash out of their initial military training. Some just decide that enlisting in the military wasn't for them, and they cannot adjust to military life. Others are unable to meet the basic standards and requirements to become a service member. 

But among the most common reasons that young people fail to complete recruit training successfully and on time is injury. That's why today's recruit trainers and drill instructors take many precautious to avoid injuries that can leave new enlistees to languish for weeks in a rehabilitation unit or simply sent back home. "Injury is extremely frustrating and can crush morale and motivation," said Army Capt. Lydia Blondin, assistant chief of physical therapy at the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital website at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. 

The most common injuries are overuse injuries of the lower extremities and include stress fractures and muscle strains, she said. "Occasionally, we also see more acute injuries like fractures or ligament tears," she added. These can result in delayed training due to prolonged bone healing times, which typically range from six to 12 weeks. 

Still, despite the best mitigation efforts injuries do occur. Medical experts say today's recruits are at higher risk of injury because they live a more sedentary lifestyle than prior generations. Some of them struggle to adjust to the rigors of recruit training. 
That's why it's more important than ever to encourage recruits to get in shape before shipping out. And they need access to top-notch medical care if they get injured to ensure their entire military career doesn't get derailed at its earliest phase. 

Responding to Injuries 
Once injuries happen, the health care team at each training facility is there to help. At Fort Leonard Wood, the staff at the Richard G. Wilson Troop Medical Clinic offers primary care as well as physical therapy. 

The installation has a fitness training holding unit for injured soldiers. That provides access to the Warrior Training and Rehabilitation ProgramArmy website article on Warrior Training and Rehabilitation Program gets injured Soldiers back on track, which helps injured soldiers rehabilitate and recover, said Army Maj. Jon-Marc Thibodeau, a clinical coordinator and chief of the medical readiness service line at Fort Leonard Wood. "The soldier can continue healing while staying fit and healthy until they are ready to return back to training," explained Blondin.

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